Pickle Soup

picke-soup-photoWeird but good.  When I first read this recipe, I thought, Pickles? That’s sounds yucky.

‘Kitchen therapy’ and weird were just what was needed one morning when I had emotional child-rearing issues weighing on my mind.

 

Items marked with a * are my additions to the original recipe.

 

5 dill pickles, grated

4 tsp. butter (1 tsp. for saute pan & the remainder for the soup pot)

4 cups water

1 large carrot, chopped (* 6 small carrots)

2 celery stalks (* 3 stalks)

1 parsley root (* 2 parsnips substituted ), chopped

1 leek, chopped (* skipped)

1 potato, peeled & chopped

*1 tblsp. salt

 

Topping

sour cream

fresh, chopped dill

 

Over low heat, saute grated dill pickles in 1 tblsp. butter for 20 minutes. (This removes some of the ‘bite’ from the pickle giving it more of a mild vinegar flavor that adds interest to the soup.)

In a soup pot, combine water, remaining butter and chopped vegetables. Over medium heat, simmer till tender.

Add grated dill pickles, bring to boil & remove from heat.

 

Polish Stuffed Cabbage

cabbage-roll-makingMeat Stuffing

1 1/2 – 2 cups Panko or Italian bread crumbs – soak in water then drain with a strainer (press firmly to remove as much water as possible).

1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

1 lg. yellow onion chopped

1 egg

salt and pepper

Mix together like a meatloaf.

*Stop here if you prefer mild meat stuffing.

 

Since my tastes run more toward zippy, I also add;

juice from one lemon

1 tsp. Hungarian paprika

1 tsp. celery salt

1 tsp. dill

1 full pkg. of fatty bacon – cooked until drippings are obtainable

2 –  14.5 oz cans chicken broth

Cabbage Leaf Stuffing

1 large head cabbage with the core cut out.

Fill a large soup pot with water, add salt and boil.

Place the entire head of cabbage into the boiling water. Watch for the leaves to begin to separate.  Remove the leaves when they become soft or take the head out of the water, put it in a strainer, and peel the leaves.

The leaves are ready when they are translucent and soft. Continue boiling and leaf peeling until the entire cabbage is disassembled.

On a cutting board, spread a leaf out as flat as possible. Cut a “V” to remove the thickest parts.

Cut a small palm-sized portion of the leaf. Hold it in your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat stuffing on it. Turning it over onto the larger leaf, fold the leaf around the palm-sized portion. *The goal is to have no spaces where the meat squeezes out.

Secure with a toothpick.

Continue stuffing leaves until they’ve all been used.

Cook the Cabbage Rolls

In a large soup pot, bring 1 can of chicken broth + some water to a simmer.  Add 3 tblsp. of bacon fat.

Place stuffed cabbage rolls into the bottom of the pot in a single layer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove cooked rolls, add another batch to the pot to cook for 30 minutes. Add more water / broth as needed.

*The brand of bacon that I had didn’t yield much fat, so I added three full strips of bacon to the chicken broth in the pot.

Gravy

Add 1 can of chicken broth to the remainder of the bacon grease. Heat till warm.

*I had more meat stuffing than the cabbage leaves would hold, so I fried it up and added it to the gravy.

Blend a couple of tablespoons of flower with water and slowly add to broth mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Storage

Place cabbage rolls in a casserole dish and cover with gravy. Heat them at 350 degrees in the oven for 45-50 minutes if you have a large group to feed or place the dish in the refrigerator and eat them a couple at a time.

with-vinegar-and-creme-fresh2

 

Being a vinegar fan, I liberally douse my stuffed cabbage rolls with red wine vinegar. London Malt vinegar is good too as is rice vinegar – though milder. Top it off with Crème Fraîche, plain yogurt or sour cream.

24 Hour Cabbage Salad – Kristen’s Nana (Peggy)

peggy3-web

“My friend Kristen shared this recipe with me. She rediscovered it in a book she had from her Nana.” – Peggy Wrysinski Greene

1 med head shredded cabbage
1 small onion, cut fine
1 bell pepper, cut fine (I used red and yellow)
15 or 20 stuffed olives, sliced
Combine:
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teas. salt
1 teas. celery seed
1/8 teas. pepper
1 teas. prepared mustard
1/2 cup salad oil
Bring liquids/spices to a boil. Pour over prepared vegetables. Turn salad occasionally. Keeps indefinitely.
Serves 8-10
“When I made it, I told Kristen I felt like I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen. It has the flavors of something she would have made.”
From Kristen:
“Melva Marchand Burnett Wagers was a fantastic cook.  Recently I rediscovered Nana’s recipe for Warm Cabbage Salad.  The recipe card was written by her.  I felt close to her again.  Many of Melva’s best recipes are family recipes which came from the east across the prairie.  I think this is one of those recipes.  The salad really does last forever.  Be sure to wait until the next day – it’s worth it.”

Sauce Series – Taste Testing – 1 of 5

Learn the skill of sauce making.

To begin this process, start with an exercise program…taste testing. By exposing your taste buds to a variety of seasonings, you’ll increase your flavor recall and you will know what to add to develop the flavors that you desire.

(Start with items that you have on-hand in your cupboard or pantry.)

Set up a side-by-side comparisons to discover the subtle differences between varieties of sweeteners, salty flavors, and vinegars.

Sweet flavors – maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, molasses, etc.

Salty flavors  – soy sauce, tamarind sauce, liquid aminos, Worcestshire sauce, etc.

Vinegarsfruit vinegars, balsamic, white wine, rice, red wine, white, etc.

Arrange the tasting items from mildest to strongest; taste them in this order.

*If you begin to loose sensation in either your taste buds or in your sense of smell, take a break. Drink some water or milk, eat a few plain crackers, bits of bread, or sniff coffee grounds to clear your pallet.

The Sauce Series is organized into three basic sauce categories; red, brown, and white. Each blog post contains recipes for several simple sauces to make and taste.  Number three in the series includes in-depth tutorials about working with thickening agents. Finally, the series is wrapped up with a humorous cooking challenge modelled after one of my favorite cooking shows, ‘Chopped‘.

Sauce Series #1 – taste bud training

Sauce Series #2 – red sauces

Sauce Series #3 – brown sauces & thickening agents

Sauce Series #4 – white sauces

Mock ‘Chopped’ #5 – group cooking challenge how-to

 

 

 

 

 

Gumbo

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

Okra as a thickener?  I must say it is a little ‘weird’ to observe the clear slime (mucilage) that interconnect slices of okra like spider webs when they are moved around in a saute pan. [It is also interesting to note that the viscosity of this substance increases with heat.]

No matter – the okra entertainment value is a ‘plus’ and it is delicious when combined with the other ingredients that make Gumbo!

 

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic Gumbo Components:

Sauce:

6-8 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 med. or lg. onion – chopped
meat | protein of choice chopped into bite sized pieces (my favorite is chicken thighs)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (regular mustard also works fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

In a large soup pot start with 2 tbslp. olive oil . Add 1 large package of frozen okra (thawed). Saute until brown. Add whatever other vegetables you wish to include.

In the version pictured at the far right, I used broccoli, turnips, carrots, onions and green beans. Cut these into bite sized pieces and saute with okra for about 10 minutes. gumbo

Spices:
1 tblsp. thyme
1 tblsp. oregano
1 tblsp. basil
2-3 bay leaves
salt to taste

*2 bunches of fresh cilantro – finely chopped – added right before serving

To soup pot, add 1 large can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups chicken stock –  set on low while you work on stage two.

Stage Two:

In a saucepan, saute sauce mixture from above until meat is cooked. Add this to the soup pot.

Stage Three: Additional thickener – roux

In a saute pan, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Slowly, whisk in 1/4 cup flour until it is smooth and smells slightly nutty (about 3-4 minutes). Add to soup pot.

Simmer until Gumbo is the consistency of gravy.

Shrimp_gumbo

“Gumbo isn’t so much a recipe as it is a state of mind, complete with secret language and poetic license.” – Peggy Lampman, author of Simmer and Smoke and culinary food blogger. [click here to see Peggy’s Gumbo ya-ya reicpe]

 

Apple (or other fruit) Cider Vinegar

I LOVE it when I can work in my kitchen preparing one thing…and have numerous other things going on at the same time. This one utilizes scraps from ‘other things going on.’

apples

Apples or other tart fruit scraps

1 cup honey per gallon of water

Open glass or crock container

Towels or cloth for covering

Time…

Chop apples into chunks (or use scraps from pie making)

Add honey – stir to mix well

Put a glass plate on top with a weight to make sure all fruit is submergedapples in bowl

Cover with towels (the towels are to keep out fruit flies *see fruit fly trap below) or use a rubber band to tightly tie down a cloth around the opening of the container.

Place in dark spot on counter or in pantry for a month or more…taste occasionally till it’s reached the desired strength
Note: a white ‘fermenting’ scum will appear on the top [this is normal]…scoop it off if you wish…or scoot it aside for taste testing

Strain out fruit

Put liquid in a glass jar with a lid

The 'floaties' are a good thing....it's what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar 'mother.'

The ‘floaties’ are a good thing….it’s what turns the fruit liquid into vinegar. Bacteria, air, and sugar create a vinegar ‘mother.’

Let it sit another 6 weeks – Voila! It’s Vinegar!jar

Lisa’s Notes:

Like many cooks before me, I have to test my results before sharing a recipe.gift bottles

I experimented with different sugars; concluding that I like honey the best. I tried different sitting times; deducing that a stronger taste will result from a longer sit – but also that the type of fruit used, air temperature, and the time of year that you make it will also have an effect. Which boils it down to – the taste will tell you when it’s done.

Fruit Fly Trap – In an open dish on your counter, place vinegar, liquid dish soap and a piece of fruit that sticks up over the liquid

Additional Resources: 

From The White House Cookbook 1887  – Digitized – Michigan State University Library

“Apple Vinegar (economical and good)
Have an earthen jar ready for use. Into this put your apple peelings and cores if good. Cover generously with water. Cover the jar tight, and let stand in cool place. Every day parings may be added, putting on more water each time. When cold tea is left, pour into this jar and also add molasses to the proportion of a cup to a gallon of water. In the course of two or three weeks you will have an excellent vinegar made of nothing. When ready to use, strain through cheese cloth and stand away. This has been tried with good results, and with a little thought economical housekeepers can make enough in one summer to last all winter. ”

Apple Vinegar from Peels and Cores – Mother Earth News

How to Make Homemade Vinegar – Mother Earth News

Creating Homemade Fruit Vinegars – Mother Earth News

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinegar

http://www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com/vinegar-history.html

Fig Spiced Vinegar – Lisa’s

1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegarfig vinegar

4 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. dried rosemary

2 tblsp. fresh ginger – chopped

1 cup fresh figs – chopped

Place all ingredients in a mason jar – make sure liquid covers everything

Let sit in a cool place for a month – shake once in a while.

Strain out all solids.

Use as a drizzle on vegetables or salads.

 

IMG_1745

Cucumbers & Cream – Grandma’s

peel and soak in salt water enough cucumbers and onions for your meal for at least 1/2 hour
(if in a hurry eliminate above)ed george

Rinse with fresh water and drain.

Cream Sauce:

Mix in a bowl
enough
mayonnaise to dress the cucumbers
add equal amounts of
vinegar
sugar about 1 tblsp. ea.

(onion powder or onion salt can be substituted for fresh onion)

combine all – the sauce should be  about the thickness of pancake syrup or less – if it needs thinning, just add milk until the correct consistency is achieved –  serve over mashed potatoes

jon taking out curlers

family picnic with fishing

grandma erik

Ham & Bean Soup – Grandma’s

Fill large pot with watergrandpa and old car
add 1 – 2 cups white navy or pea beans (washed)
add
celery – chopped
onions – chopped
desired amount of ham – preferably with bone

bring to boil and simmer till beans are soft – about 1 hour or more

slice desired amount of potatoes into small cubes –  add to soup and cook till done (about 10 min.)

salt and pepper to taste

serve with vinegar so folks can add to taste

 

grandpa wedding

 

bushia jaja house wisconsingrandpas childhood home

Pickled Beets – Bushia’s

Select 1&1/2 to 2 inch diameter beets.

Bushia

Pressure cook until tender. Peel and pack in quart jars.
Pickling brine:
2 cups water or beet juice
3/4 cup vinegar (white)
almost 2/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken
Bring to a boil. Remove cinnamon stick.
Pour over beets in jars. Cap. No need to water-bath.
Let stand for at least a few days.
Remembrance:
Jeanette (3rd Daughter, child #5):
This one really reminds me of Bushia and “the big room” and big family dinners at holiday times. Pickled beets were very festive with their deep red color and tangy taste.
Lisa (Grandchild #1):
The big room!  I remember it being long and narrow; dimly lit with two long rows of twin metal framed beds along each wall. They seemed to go on forever….were there twenty beds? Why were they there?  …I don’t ever remember contemplating that question in my 5 year old brain. I only remember the slightly dusty smell, the crinkly linoleum in the back bathroom, Jaja’s dark, cave-like gardening work room at the very end…and jumping on all those beds!!  Was it Jon or Peggy jumping with me?
Dianne (Firstborn & Lisa’s Mom):
“The big room” was big and long.
The beds were mostly for the duck hunters. Busia and Jaja would rent the room out during hunting season.
The beds were also for family who came to visit and for us kids when we would stay at their house if Mom and Dad were gone somewhere.
The room at the end was Jajas tool shed.
Busia would have family dinners out in the big room when there were too many people to put in the house.
Your Dad, you and I lived in the big room for about 6 months or maybe a year when we  were traveling  back and forth from Colusa to Cottage Grove, Oregon every 2 weeks.  You had your 1st Birthday in their house.

bushia mary jeanette donnie
bushia jaja3